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  • Writer's picturePanama Human Rights

Richard Ratcliffe asks for Mr Tuffney’s help in making the FCO more accountable when it comes to...

Britt's abroad

December 24th, 2019 Richard Ratcliffe: My daughter is back home for Christmas, but it's tough without Nazanin “Are these pink presents for daddy?” asks Richard Ratcliffe, pointing to a pile of wrapped gifts under the brightly decorated Christmas tree. “Or are they for Gabriella?” His five-year-old daughter looks up at him indignantly, crying out, “they’re mine daddy,” until Richard’s face breaks into a smile, and she squeezes his legs in a hug.

This is the first Christmas that Richard, 44, is spending with his daughter Gabriella since she was a two-year-old toddler. For the last three and a half years, she’s been living with her grandparents in Iran, while her mother Nazanin, 40, has been locked up in an Iranian jail.


Richards’s story is extremely compelling when it came to the treatment, he and his family received from the British foreign commonwealth office. Mr Tuffney is in the same position with his family; he has not seen his son for over ten years while his British son has been locked into the Panamanian state unable to leave and blocking Mr Tuffney from entering while Mr Tuffney is also leaving his wife and two young daughters.

From: Richard Ratcliffe <> Sent: 30 November 2019 18:59 To: Nick Tuffney <> Subject: Re: Torture and ill-treatment while under the care of the FCO Panamá

Hi Nick

Great to be in touch - I hope you are doing ok. And your family also.

Are you back in the UK?

I don’t know if Chris mentioned - we have been working with other families who felt that the FCO let them down to try to campaign for a right to consular protection and came across your story in the news, without realising we were both helped by Redress.

I wondered if - when the dust settles - you might be interested in telling your story on our petition site. I think there would be a lot of interest in it.

You would be welcome to join the campaign also - though that might be for later down the line.

First step either way would be to speak over the phone / meet up to learn more.

So, I was reaching out to see if you might be interested at some point?



From: Richard Ratcliffe <> Sent: 09 December 2019 18:05 To: Nick Tuffney <> Subject: Re: Other appointment's

Hi Nick

I am sorry for Friday - we got overtaken by a release of one of the other prisoners in Iran.

Do you have any availability to speak tomorrow?


What is the FCO, and what does it stand for?

I believed my Embassy was here to protect my family and me while I was in a foreign state. Looking back at this, I realise how much of a fool I was.

Knowing what I know now, I have a personal message to any British citizen going abroad: Read the small print. The Embassy says that “they and citizens are only guests in a foreign state.” So be warned.

This essentially means that they will not intervene on your behalf. Furthermore, the other issue is that trade comes well before any citizen needs, especially if there was a billion-dollar trade deal at stake. Sadly, I was a victim of maladministration that consisted of multiple failures by the British Embassy, in the Republic of Panamá.

This Embassy failed to support me when I was being held, chained in public view for nearly two months at a jungle prison in Darién. The Embassy only visited me once, and they made no effort to return throughout that period. There wasn’t even a phone call made to check on me.

Yet, I can confirm that it was this Embassy that inspected my prison, before deeming it satisfactory. They knew full well that the prison was officially closed for human violation rights, roughly two years before.

The Embassy was informed of my ill-treatment and torture, but they failed to inform the Panamanian Ombudsman until much later; this was after the complaint had been officially lodged with the Embassy.

It was not just me who had issues with the Embassy’s lack of support. A fellow Britt, Mark Bodden, complained about his squalid and inhumane conditions. He was sleeping in a makeshift bed, precariously suspended nine feet in the air.

The Embassy responded sickeningly. “If we give you special treatment, we would have to give all the others the same.”

The condition Mark was kept in was a direct violation of the International Human Rights Convention, which Panamá and the UK had both signed. Mark died one week after I recorded that conversation. He had fallen from his bed to his death, and the judge gave an open verdict on the case.

Human Rights (The rights of the child ignored by the UK Embassy)

I will never forgive the Embassy. They made no effort to overturn my lifelong expulsion order, from the state of Panamá. They hardly even took my innocence or right to the family into account.

My boy was abducted and brought to Panamá, by my estranged Panamanian wife in 2010. The Embassy was fully aware I had a UK son, not a Panamanian boy who was living somewhere in Panamá, they acknowledged my quest to find him, but they failed to do anything to stop my deportation.

Since my expulsion in 2014, I still have not heard or seen anything about my son. I have tried using the UK International Child Abduction agency and Reunite, but sadly yet to no avail.

British embassy, shame on you! You have failed my family and me. It sickens me that you could have done more, as agreed to by the Parliamentary Ombudsman report.

Mr Nicholas Tuffney


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